20/05/2013: Bion-M capsule returns with its animal crew
The Bion-M capsule, launched a month ago, returned to earth on 20th May, as planned, in the Orenburg region in Russia.
On board, gerbils, lizards, snails and mice! An unusually furry and scaly crew, closely monitored during their flight, using video cameras among other equipment.
Five of the mice were implanted with sensors which continuously measured blood pressure and heart rate, before, during and after the flight. This uninterrupted monitoring was made possible thanks to a telemetry system modified by CNES to work properly in space and to be compatible with the biosatellite; the experiment was the first of its kind.
Although the implants are based on a commercial system commonly used in research, the blood pressure sensors and the recording apparatus needed to be re-designed from scratch in order to provide continuous measurements during the entire mission.
Doctor Marc-Antoine Custaud (PhD) from the Integrated mitochondrial and neurovascular biology laboratory (Université d’Angers/CNRS/Inserm) offered his scientific expertise in the project’s development and will use the data collected during the experiment to better understand cardiovascular dysfunctions induced by microgravity.
Thanks to the Bion flight, animal physiology studies will be able to resume after a decades-long halt. Laurence Vico and her team (Inserm 1059 “Bone tissue integrative biology”, in Saint-Etienne, France) will also contribute their expertise to better understand the effects of space flight on bones. Studies on muscles will be headed by Stéphane Blanc from the Hubert Curien Multidisciplinary Institute in Strasbourg (CNRS/Université de Strasbourg).
Muscle and bone tissue samples will be collected for both French laboratories from 10 other mice on the landing site itself. The objective is to use cutting-edge techniques to determine precisely whether or not adaptation-related metabolic networks and cellular activity function properly in muscles and bones. Bone exploration will require more sophisticated exploration techniques (synchrotron radiation nanotomography, nanoindentation).
These space biology studies aim to achieve a better understanding of different mechanisms and factors involved in various pathologies on Earth – cardiovascular risk, osteoporosis, and metabolic syndrome, using space research’s unique models for extreme prolonged physical inactivity to assess its effects.
19/04/2013: Successful launch of the Bion spacecraft
The Soyuz rocket carrying the BION-M 1 biosatellite carrying the MTB experiments and its mice was completed successfully (12:00 UTC+1).
Separation was successful and BION is now in orbit for 30 days.
02/2011: MTB flight model delivered to IBMP
The MTB equipment flight model was delivered by CNES to the Russian Biophizpribor team in Saint Petersburg. It was then integrated into the BIOS block containing the 5 cages and passed the last system tests before being integrated to Russian BION m 1 automated capsule due to launch in April of 2013 (delayed from August of 2012) to complete a 30-day automated flight.
French and Russian science teams carried out a simulation on the ground, in the IBMP in Moscow. Th simulation lasted as long as the flight would and was designed to confirm all the scientific and measurement protocols to which the five mice will be subjected during the MTB experience, before, during and after the actual flight.
The CNES project team (DCT/PO/PM and DSP/SME) and the science team (Anger Hospital Physiology Laboratory) are now eagerly waiting for the launch!